The golden hills of the trendy people are a very special place. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers owns a Music Conservatory here, almost everything smells like Aesop soap, and the ghost of the happy foot/sad foot sign holds immense local superstition (RIP). In other words, Silver Lake is weird.
Luckily, this tiny, very hilly neighborhood also is overflowing with fantastic restaurants. Here’s our list to the best of them.
Pijja Palace is a maximalist Indian sports bar that is, in the best way possible, Stimulation with a capital S. There are three giant flatscreen TVs on every wall, forcing you to stare directly into LeBron James' eyes until you merge souls. The dining room uses mid-century modern furniture and neon lights in a way that reminds us of a vintage arcade. And the food is just fun. Thin-crust pizzas come topped with saag gravy, stinger chiles, or baingan jawa fry, a deep-fried eggplant dish made with mustard oil. Wings are doused in masala and Kashmiri red chilis. And our favorite is a wonderful pasta—cheese and shells, brimming with saffron, parmesan, and Indian long pepper. It's our new go-to comfort dish. Come here to watch a game (duh), but also for casual hangs with friends when you need something fresh, pronto.
Don’t kill the messenger, but when it comes to restaurants, Sunset Junction has become pretty sleepy lately. Bar Moruno is already starting to liven things up. The party-like energy at this upscale Spanish spot hits you the second you walk in—you’ll spot friends and coworkers hovering over round wooden tables eating canned fish and swapping today’s best drama and a walk-in only bar area that starts popping by 6:30pm every night. It’s the kind of place you might roll into on a weeknight for silky egg salad and pan con tomate, and accidentally stay for three hours because there’s an entire gin martini section on the menu. Bar Moruno is fun, a little kitschy, and feels as close to a tapas bar in Barcelona as you’ll get in LA.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
The Cubano at El Cochinito isn’t just the best in Silver Lake, or even the city - according to the International Cuban Sandwich Festival, it’s the best in the entire world. The family-run joint took first place in the Miami-based competition back in 2018 and hasn’t skipped a beat since then, consistently serving some of our favorite Cuban dishes in the city. You’ll want the pollo empanizado - breaded chicken breasts that have been pan-fried and hit with a hefty lime squeeze. You’ll also want the ropa vieja, that aforementioned sandwich, and definitely a tropical guanabana smoothie. What we’re trying to say is: bring a friend?
Right across the street from All Day Baby is El Ruso’s Silver Lake truck. Known for their excellent Sonora-style tacos and fluffy, handmade tortillas, not much has changed with the expansion, so get ready for cheese-encrusted vampiro tacos, red-hot birria that’s been stewed for hours, and their signature sobaqueras. The sobaqueras are approximately the size of a parachute and come stuffed with your choice of beans, tender chile colorado, or just your nose deeply inhaling the delicious scent.
Needle, a tiny Cantonese restaurant with a giant green sign, serves everything from pea shoots in garlic broth to button mushrooms so good, they compelled us to change our Twitter name to “Funghi Fieri.” It's also the perfect corner spot to watch as people with curled villain mustaches and leopard print pants waddle down Sunset Blvd. All ordering is done from a tiny QR code at your table, and the covered sidewalk patio is the best spot to snack and hang out for as long as you want. The must-order dish here is the pork shop char siu. It's grilled over charcoal right out front, glazed in honey, and then served with hot mustard to cut through the richness.
L&E Oyster Bar
Meet Silver Lake’s king of the castle. Since L&E opened in 2012, like a hardworking backpacker climbing Mt. Fuji, this cozy neighborhood spot has slowly but surely made its way to the top of our list of restaurants in the area. Of course, the oysters are spectacular (creamy and briny, like someone hand-delivered them from the ocean), but they’ve also got a banging burger, cobb salad heavy with bacon bits, and a smoked fish dip that comes with crackers they made themselves. They’ve also taken over the sidewalk out front, there’s an upstairs space with a limited menu and Happy Hour specials, and everyone just generally seems happy to be here. We don’t know if there’s been a cosmic shift, a spell cast by a witch, or just our own ignorance, but if you’re not eating here, you’re not really dining out in Silver Lake.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this American comfort food restaurant lives up to its name. You’ll find them in a bright-red building on Sunset Blvd., slinging hot catfish sandwiches and breakfast burritos the size of newborn babies in the morning then oyster pot pies and NY strip steaks at night. They also offer special dessert orders, like whole chocolate pudding pies, cinnamon rolls slathered with labneh frosting, and banana bread loaves - like we said, they really do it all.
The team behind Los Angeles taquero legend, Guisados, opened a mariscos restaurant on Sunset Blvd. Although the menu here is pretty compact, you still have a good number of options - flour or corn tortillas, shrimp or fish tacos, whether to rip into the bag as soon as it’s ready or wait until you get to the table like a civilized person, etc. Both shrimp and fish tacos are beer-battered to perfection, made with a proper crunch, and their seafood-packed campechana is the ideal snack to have while strolling around the neighborhood.
De Buena Planta - Silver Lake
De Buena Planta, a plant-based Mexican restaurant with another location on Abbot Kinney, now has a second spot in Silver Lake. If you want to feel like you’re dining beachside in Tulum instead of in a little strip mall on Sunset Blvd, check out their plant-filled patio. You can stop by the 5,000-square-foot outdoor space near Same Same Thai and Ceci’s Gastronomia to order mezcal cocktails from a tiki bar and eat beet tostadas at a barrel table. Respectfully, it feels nothing like the Eastside— a cross between a Malibu Barbie dreamhouse and the set from Jurassic Park: greenery everywhere you look, people are doing shots of rum in the corner, and yes, there’s enough room for you and everyone you know.
Please excuse the slightly graphic name—is it a nod to burnt tongues… because the pizza is so hot? Someone, help us out here—but this vegan pizza spot is a great place to pick up pies before a game or catch up with friends over garlic knots. There are two types of pizzas, ones made round and thin and Neapolitan-style, or thick Detroit-style, and we prefer the latter. The dough is nice and springy, slightly sour, and very thick—pan baked and covered in garlic, red sauce, a pesto drizzle, and almond ricotta cheese. Yes, this tastes amazing straight from the fridge the next morning.
For decades, this counter-service cafe has been serving Cuban coffee, pastelitos, and sandwiches on Sunset Blvd. And the only thing that changed after the El Cochinito team took over in 2019 was the pastel paint job. You can still drop by as early as 7am for a strong cortadito, blueberry coconut bun, or the cafe’s signature pastry: a guava cheese turnover. It comes with a deep golden crust with tiny specks of guava paste bursting out from the flaky dough. It’s creamy, sweet, slightly tart, and our ideal way to start the day.
We’ve seen this neighborhood Italian restaurant go through more ups and downs than the plot of a rom-com. Currently, they’ve moved past the honeymoon phase (best restaurant in the area, reinventing pasta, etc.), and have settled into a more comfortable position - over the past year or two, they’ve scaled back their menu a lot, removing things like scallop crudo, Calabrian pork ribs, and tortellini relaxing in bone broth, leaving us with a compact list of their greatest hits. Which, of course, are still pretty good - that braised sugo radiatori should win some sort of award - but overall, they’ve relaxed into the Nice Neighborhood Restaurant territory.
Eating at Ceviche Project feels like dropping into a Miami club in the ’80s - it’s tropical, there’s flair, and you’re definitely going to have fun. They’re currently only open for outdoor dining (so no grabbing a seat at the bar made of marble) but you’ll still get to enjoy vibrant scallops off the half shell, tai snapper ceviche, and their kanpachi tostada - a stunning dish topped with so much trout roe, yellowfish, and avocado cream, it almost reaches all the way to heaven.
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Half-Austrian restaurant, half-natural wine bar, Eszett is for people who look at a traditional date night and ask, “but why isn’t it more stylish?” All the counter space is covered in terrazzo, booths are swathed in pale, green leather, and you’ll probably see that one cool acquaintance you’ve always been slightly jealous of. Get whatever toast they’re serving that night (last time we checked it was Italian anchovies over Bub & Grandma’s bread, yum) plus a few glasses of pet-nat chardonnay or a non-alcoholic botanical tonic.
Between chorizo burgers, pork belly bánh mì, slow-roasted pork shank, and an immensely crunchy lechon kawali, this Filipino restaurant goes the whole hog on, well, hog. Each dish shines in its own way, like adobe belly nigiri showered in furikake and chives, or Spoon & Pork’s signature dish, the deep-fried patita. Doused in garlic vinegar then served over fragrant jasmine rice, this massive pork shank is big enough for two - even if that’s just you and yourself the morning after.
Casita del Campo
Since its inception back in the 1960s, Casita Del Campo has remained one of the most reliable places in Silver Lake to have a good time. The classic Mexican restaurant - and historic queer nightlife institution - serves a wide-ranging menu of enchiladas, burritos, sizzling fajitas plates, and margaritas so strong, they should come with an FDA warning. They’ve also transformed their parking lot into a beautiful, expansive patio, complete with brightly colored potted plants, string lights overhead, and more than enough space for birthday parties.
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We’re as tired as you of this whole “NYC vs. The Rest of the World” debate when it comes to bagel-making, so we’ll skip straight to the point: Maury’s bakes a damn good bagel. Operating out of a red-brick building in a more residential part of Silver Lake, this takeout-only spot serves bagels that are pliable and chewy, plus a whole bunch of cured fish options for every breakfast aficionado in your friend group. The buttery black cod goes perfectly with cream cheese, there’s a $22 version piled high with lox and wasabi tobiko, as well as a traditional smoked salmon bagel sandwich that’s satisfyingly simple.
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Night + Market Song
In May 2022, Night + Market Song officially reopened after a year-long hiatus. The second location of the massively popular Thai joint might not have the party-time setting and beer towers like its original Sunset Strip locale, but its kitschy feel is the perfect match for Silver Lake. This is some of the finest Thai food in the city, in a casual setting suited for almost anything, just be sure to order the larb and plenty of natural wine to wash it all down.
Whenever we’re feeling nutrient-deprived and haven’t closed a ring on our fitness tracker in, like, forever, we head to Botanica. Located in a big, bright space on Silver Lake Blvd., a meal here feels like dining in a highly-curated Instagram feed in the best way possible. It’s life but as we wish we lived it all the time, where light streams in from the windows, gorgeous melons are sprinkled with feta and just-picked mint leaves, and crudite platters look as if constructed by Michelangelo.
People tend to forget about the Edendale, a friendly neighborhood restaurant and bar located right off the 5 Freeway. Which is a mistake, seeing that it’s secretly one of the prettiest places to grab a drink right now in Silver Lake. It’s housed in this massive brick building that, until 2002, used to be a fire station, complete with a sprawling courtyard, full-service bar, secluded dining rooms, and a giant patio out front. The Edendale sort of gives off a “house in Clue where something mysterious will inevitably happen” energy and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Same Same Thai
A very not-boring wine bar, Same Same also serves really excellent Thai food. Located in a no-name stripmall along Sunset, Same Same has a solid wine list (that goes great with spicy food), a lively space full of people who aren’t whispering in corners, and a khao soi you’ll dream about for days afterward.
If you like the idea of scooping hummus behind a charming yellow cottage, head to Bowery Bungalow. The charming patio at this broadly Mediterranean restaurant looks like it was made to host a wedding reception. The cement walls are covered in vines, candles glow on every table, and there’s a small flight of stairs leading up to a string-lit gazebo. So take a date here when you want to look like you’re trying, but not too hard. You can have some tahini toast with toasted sukkah, baby back ribs with grape molasses, and drink a little too much wine before asking about your date’s insecurities.
Freedman’s, the popular Jewish comfort food spot in Silver Lake has transformed into Greekman's. Instead of reubens and latkes, the menu is all Greek food and there’s a new white and blue-painted front patio adorned with wood floors and a lot of fake leaves. Order the crispy zucchini chips, smoked cauliflower and labne, and correctly advertised “very lemony” potatoes.
A lot of newer Izakayas cropping up around town are doing a more American-influenced take on Japanese cuisine. Not Osen. This tavern keeps things super traditional, with wood panels, servers in kimonos, and grill smoke that will not leave your clothes for a few hours. Food-wise, they’re doing great, affordable yakitori skewers and sushi. If you want to eat a dinner that doesn’t look like your last eight restaurant outings, come to Osen.
Sure, the lines at this massively popular ramen spot border on ridiculous, but stay strong. The ramen inside is some of the best in the city and you can do takeout. Seriously, do takeout. It tastes just as good on your couch and you get an extra couple hours tacked on to your Netflix binge.
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Despite a cringe-worthy name that even we want to roll our eyes at, What The Fish is a remarkably solid sushi restaurant. Besides Yakuza on Silver Lake Blvd., there aren’t many others in the area (you’ll have to venture to Atwater Village or Downtown LA for that). Nothing here will blow your mind, but the fish quality is high, there’s something on the menu for everyone (crispy rice! Traditional nigiri! Baked unagi rolls!), and the prices hover around $20-$30 per person.